The Convention on the Rights of the Child has now been ratified by 191 nations. Notwithstanding, securing the principles and necessary legal safeguards remains a difficult achievement. Laws and jurisprudence must be firmly linked to the national reality to avoid them being well-meant placebos.
The seventh Innocenti Global Seminar, held in Florence in October 1996, brought together participants with a wide range of experiences and perspectives to discuss discrimination against ethnic minorities, immigrants and indigenous peoples. The Report emphasizes participation, education and empowerment and calls for systematic attention to be paid to minority populations in all situation analyses.
The children of an ethnic group, race or religious denomination represent its continuity - they embody a potential for future diversity. This has resulted throughout history in their extreme vulnerability in times of conflict among or involving such groups: they are perceived as the enemies of the future and made prime targets of genocide.
Educational rights for minority groups may be included in states' education systems and also enshrined intheir statutes. However, states' laws, their declarations and their educational systems are largely normative statements. For many minority groups, the key issue is whether educational practice actually recognises those legal obligations and aspirations and provides a full, effective and fulfiling education for their young people.
Though the relationships between ethnic minorities and dominant societies are multi-faceted and complex, the interrelated but distinct dimensions of marginalization and discrimination provide a useful framework for studying minority groups. Poor children the world over are vulnerable to abuses and violence, exploitation and human rights violations. When, in addition, they belong to disadvantaged minorities, their plight warrants special attention and requires special policies.